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While you were away … what to look for now to get a focus on the future

by Mark P. McDonald  |  July 30, 2019  |  Comments Off on While you were away … what to look for now to get a focus on the future

It’s August, the dog days of summer, when living is easy.  Ok enough cliché’s.   August is a good time to take stock.  To think about what has happened so far this year, with one month to go to the end of the 3rd quarter.  More importantly it’s a time to think about what we are doing to end the year and planning for next year.  While we all look forward to wrapping up summer vacations, getting ready for back to school and beating the heat, its important to think about what we have on our place coming back.

Here are a few thoughts of the things we need to consider as we complete 2019, plan for 2020 and look for ways to continue to create value.

  • The economy is an obvious consideration. Now more than 10 years into a recovery the law of averages plays a bigger role in our plans and mindshare.  While its near impossible to time the market or economy, it is practical and responsible to have a plan for when things change.


  • The 2020 US presidential election will begin to pick up steam, as if it wasn’t already running at full steam. If the summer is any indication, this election cycle will generate a lot of noise in social media, mainstream media etc.  Despite all that noise things are getting done, they are just not getting the headlines they would normally.  Do not be distracted by that noise, instead look beyond the headlines to the back pages, the details, the late announcements to see what is really happening.


  • Brexit and global trade concerns will dominate the fall. Between now and the end of October there will be continued pressure in the EU over Brexit and the shape of Europe.  Trade related news will dominate the macro economics and seek to drive business investment and plans.  Having solid plans and considering multiple scenarios is essential.

Each of these items is important and somewhat obvious.  Here are a few less obvious things that I believe leaders should consider in their views and plans for the near term future.  These are things that kind of make headlines, too often they are treated superficially.  I believe that these are items that need to consider as you plan for the coming year.

  • Digital Regulation, the historical ‘hands off’ approach to regulating digital companies is coming to an end. I would pay less attention to the noise over breaking up the digital giants and consider how your company will help shape the discussion regarding rules for digital society.

Analog rules and analog rule making will not work in a digital world, but that is the direction of the current debate.  Even though you are not Facebook or Amazon or google, you have a stake in digital rule setting.  Consider advocating for greater transparency, interoperability, data privacy and forward looking regulation.  More about this in a subsequent post.

  • Structural move to services and cloud delivery, this is the fundamental shift in technology that is changing everything from solution technologies, to revenue models, to go to market. Incumbent technology companies feel the forces of digital disruption that other industries are feeling or felt for the past 5 years.   More on this in the next blog post.


  • The rise of Chinese technology firms in Western markets. Huawei is the source of much of the noise, but the signal comes from Alibaba, Tencent and others.  These companies are creating cloud based solutions that are challenging U.S. based incumbents.  According to Gartner’s market share forecasts, Alibaba has the third highest cloud dBMS revenue for FY 2018.   Tencent is ranked sixth.  Security, privacy and sovereignty concerns are legitimate, but the market is voting with its dollars.  How well are you prepared for an expanded set of technology companies?  Who are you watching?  How should they influence your future technology decisions.

Summer time is a great time to step back, relax and enjoy yourself.  Before we know it, it will be time for the push to the end of Q3 and the fiscal year.  Before you lean-in and put your shoulder to the grindstone, consider what is signal and what is noise.

Enjoy this last part of summer.

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Category: digital-society  digitalization  economy  marketplace  personal-observation  

Tags: digital  disruption  planning  

Mark McDonald
VP Analyst
12 years at Gartner
33 years IT Industry

Mark McDonald, Ph.D., is a Vice President and Fellow Emeritus in Gartner for General Managers Program. Read Full Bio

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